John Delury is a Senior Fellow of the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations and Professor of Chinese Studies at Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS) in Seoul, Korea. He also serves as chair of the undergraduate Program in International Studies at Yonsei’s Underwood International College (UIC) and as Founding Director of the Yonsei Centre on Oceania Studies. He is the author of Agents of Subversion: The Fate of John T. Downey and the CIA’s Covert War in China (Cornell University Press, 2022) and co-author with Orville Schell of Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-first Century (Random House, 2013). Based in Seoul since 2010, his articles can be found in journals such as Asian Survey, Late Imperial China, and Journal of Asian Studies. His commentaries appear in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and 38 North, and he contributes book reviews for the quarterly journal Global Asia, where he is Associate Managing Editor.

Delury is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, a Pacific Century Institute board member, and a National Committee on American Foreign Policy leadership council member. He is a member of the Republic of Ireland’s foreign affairs advisory network and is invited to offer his analysis on East Asian affairs with government, think tank, corporate, and civil society organizations globally. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in History from Yale University.

Last Updated: February 16, 2022

Conversation

03.02.22

Remembering Jonathan Spence

Pamela Kyle Crossley, Sherman Cochran & more
A few weeks after Jonathan Spence, the celebrated historian of China, died at Christmas, ChinaFile began collecting reminiscences from his classmates, doctoral students, and colleagues spanning the five decades of his extraordinary career as a...

Excerpts

07.13.17

Liu Xiaobo’s Three Refusals: No Enemies, No Hatred, No Lies

Orville Schell & John Delury
In the spring of 1989, Liu Xiaobo was a thirty-four-year-old professor of literature and philosophy at Beijing Normal University with a keen interest in political ideas, who when demonstrations broke out, quickly became a habitué of Tiananmen...

Conversation

04.25.17

What's the Best Way for Trump to Persuade China to Up the Pressure on North Korea?

Michael Swaine, Bruce Klingner & more
China’s President Xi Jinping called U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday morning urging American restraint in reaction to North Korea. Tensions between the United States and North Korea have risen to new levels ever since Pyongyang’s April 16...

Conversation

01.18.17

U.S.-China Flashpoints in the Age of Trump

Zha Daojiong, Isaac Stone Fish & more
Over the past year, Donald Trump has vowed to “utterly destroy” ISIS, considered lifting sanctions on Russia, promised to cancel the Paris climate agreement and “dismantle” the Iran nuclear deal. But many of his most inflammatory statements are...

Conversation

09.01.16

What Can We Expect from China at the G20?

Sophie Richardson, Joanna Lewis & more
On September 4-5, heads of the world’s major economies will meet in the southeastern city of Hangzhou for the G20 summit. The meeting represents “the most significant gathering of world leaders in China’s history,” according to The New York Times...

Conversation

02.09.16

What New Approach Should the U.S. and China Take to North Korea?

John Delury, Seong-Hyon Lee & more
On Sunday, North Korea launched a long range rocket many see as a test of its capability to launch a missile attack against the U.S., defying both American and Chinese pressure not do so. Republican U.S. presidential candidates argued Washington...

Conversation

09.02.15

What Is China’s Big Parade All About?

Pamela Kyle Crossley, Richard Bernstein & more
On September 3, China will mark the 70th anniversary of its World War II victory over Japan with a massive parade involving thousands of Chinese troops and an arsenal of tanks, planes, and missiles in a tightly choreographed march across Tiananmen...

Conversation

01.21.14

Time to Escalate? Should the U.S. Make China Uncomfortable?

Edward Friedman, Geoff Dyer & more
How should the United States respond to China’s new level of assertiveness in the Asia Pacific? In the past few months as Beijing has stepped up territorial claims around China's maritime borders—and in the skies above them—the Obama...

Conversation

09.05.13

To Reform or Not Reform?—Echoes of the Late Qing Dynasty

Orville Schell, John Delury & more
Orville Schell:It is true that China is no longer beset by threats of foreign incursion nor is it a laggard in the world of economic development and trade. But being there and being steeped in an atmosphere of seemingly endless political and...

Viewpoint

07.10.13

How the Snowden Affair Might End Up Helping U.S.-China Relations

Orville Schell & John Delury
The reason why both Americans and Chinese have become so nostalgic for the great Nixon/Kissinger-Mao Zedong/Zhou Enlai breakthrough in 1972 is because that was the last time that Sino-U.S. relations experienced a dramatic breakthrough. Now, most...

Excerpts

07.02.13

Rejuvenation (复兴)

Orville Schell & John Delury
If any of the makers of modern China who agonized over their country’s enfeebled state and dreamed of better times during the past century and a half could have visited Beijing’s Pangu Plaza today, they would hardly believe their eyes. Pangu’s...

Books

07.02.13

Wealth and Power

Orville Schell and John Delury
Through a series of lively and absorbing portraits of iconic modern Chinese leaders and thinkers, two of today’s foremost specialists on China provide a panoramic narrative of this country’s rise to preeminence that is at once analytical and personal. How did a nation, after a long and painful period of dynastic decline, intellectual upheaval, foreign occupation, civil war, and revolution, manage to burst forth onto the world stage with such an impressive run of hyperdevelopment and wealth creation—culminating in the extraordinary dynamism of China today?Wealth and Power answers this question by examining the lives of eleven influential officials, writers, activists, and leaders whose contributions helped create modern China. This fascinating survey begins in the lead-up to the first Opium War with Wei Yuan, the nineteenth-century scholar and reformer who was one of the first to urge China to borrow ideas from the West. It concludes in our time with human-rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, an outspoken opponent of single-party rule. Along the way, we meet such titans of Chinese history as the Empress Dowager Cixi, public intellectuals Feng Guifen, Liang Qichao, and Chen Duxiu, Nationalist stalwarts Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, and Communist Party leaders Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Zhu Rongji.{node, 3592}The common goal that unites all of these disparate figures is their determined pursuit of fuqiang, “wealth and power.” This abiding quest for a restoration of national greatness in the face of a “century of humiliation” at the hands of the Great Powers came to define the modern Chinese character. It’s what drove both Mao and Deng to embark on root-and-branch transformations of Chinese society, first by means of Marxism-Leninism, then by authoritarian capitalism. And this determined quest remains the key to understanding many of China’s actions today.By unwrapping the intellectual antecedents of today’s resurgent China, Orville Schell and John Delury supply much-needed insight into the country’s tortured progression from nineteenth-century decline to twenty-first-century boom. By looking backward into the past to understand forces at work for hundreds of years, they help us understand China today and the future that this singular country is helping shape for all of us. —Random House

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Foreign Affairs
10.07.14

Similarities to the protest and crackdown at Tiananmen Square have indeed been striking -- and unnerving, given the outcome of that beautiful and terrible spring.